Episode 16: How To Sell As A Servant Leader

As a veteran top producer, coach, trainer, author and keynote speaker, I founded Floriss Group in 2006 to extend and scale my passion for helping sales and customer-facing teams compete and win as servant leaders. Eventually, our clients’ successes fostered the creation of the Growth Multiplier Movement™.

Over the years, I have founded or invested in more than a dozen closely held and venture backed companies, resulting in multiple IPOs and liquidity events. I have trained or coached more than 6,500 CEOs and sales leaders from startups, family businesses and global enterprises across more than 100 industries — including many INC 500, Deloitte Fast 50, Deloitte Fast 500, Business First Fast 50 and Innovation Award winning companies. 

Today, I serve and lead clients and partners from our offices in Columbus, Ohio. My calendar is open to anyone who wants to #takethelead by taking control of growth. Connect with me here, or reach out to james@florissgroup.com.

John Sheeran: [00:00:01] B2B marketing and sales can be tough to master sales cycles can be long. And buyers are notoriously difficult to close. That's why you need minds on your side where a B2B marketing and digital agency that's helped more than 200 clients evolve their brands win more business and succeed more often.

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Dan Harris: [00:00:33] I'm your host Dan Harris. And welcome back to another episode of minds on B2B. Thank you so much everyone for clicking subscribing sharing downloading. And of course listening to our podcast this is a weekly show dedicated to helping busy B2B executives marketers and sales professionals. Stay informed. Learn something new and perhaps apply a lesson learned or run with an idea shared by our guests.

Dan Harris: [00:00:58] As we say minds on all [00:01:00] of our minds together are better than any one mind alone. Who knows. He just might like what you hear. Connect the network with us. Hello everyone This is Dan Harris your host of Minds On B2B and I'm excited to be back here in the podcast studio.

Dan Harris: [00:01:19] Better yet we're actually doing this live from the Florris Group and our guests today will be president and founder of the Floriss Group James Rores. And in a back [00:01:30] to back episode we're going to be talking with his chief growth officer Mr. Paul Fuller. I ask these two gentlemen to be on the show because they do a couple of things I know everyone out there listening wants to do. One they help sales and customer facing teams permanently eliminate barriers to their success. And they also help them cultivate habits that produce higher levels of performance. So let me share some results. Over a five year period they helped their clients at [00:02:00] one point six five billion to their sales pipelines generating three or 15 million of new revenue at 74 percent average win rate. So as we said at the beginning in the intro the show we're here to connect you. We're here to help you learn and help you grow your business.

Dan Harris: [00:02:17] And these two gentlemen are going to help us do that. So with that introduction I'm sure you want to meet James or he. So James welcome to the show. Thank you Jim. Great to be here.

Dan Harris: [00:02:29] All right [00:02:30] James what I'd like to do is if you can just tell our listeners what we'll be talking about on this episode and what they'll learn by listening today.

James Rores: [00:02:37] Well the first thing I'll be talking about is this concept of how we approach sales as a leadership competency and then we'll be diving deeper into that how we help our clients execute that across all the sales and customer facing team within their organization. Interesting. So how will this help a salesperson become successful and what's a core component [00:03:00] of it. Sure. This is really evolved from my own experience as a salesperson for more than 15 years working within venture backed startups I learned or actually taught myself how to sell things that people hadn't heard of. To solve problems they'd know they had. I was a challenging environment we didn't have because we were startups we didn't have big lists of customers we didn't have at times have product [00:03:30] that was bullet proof ready to go and so rather than resting on our customers and our products to differentiate me in the sales process. I had to differentiate not only myself but the companies that I was working for. Okay.

James Rores: [00:03:50] And so with that required was me to take the focus off of me and my young company and put it on my client and their problem. And so [00:04:00] what I had to and I learned this later after starting this company after starting florists in 0 6. But what I later learned was that with when I was really doing was practicing a leadership competency in that when I would walk into organization I would position myself as an expert and identify the shared goals that both the client and I had and I would then earn the mantle of leadership so that I could walk them [00:04:30] down a shared path to change. And by doing so I achieved all the objectives that most of us think about today. Establishing yourself as an expert establishing thought leadership establishing yourself as a trusted advisor. All those things sound great but actually learning how to do that and showing up and being able to do that is very challenging. And what what we found with our clients now over the years is that this approach is really refreshing for salespeople who find themselves [00:05:00] showing up in a defensive posture when they're selling feeling like I'm bugging people when I call them or email them and not stepping into their power as a leader.

James Rores: [00:05:13] What we also find is that there are those folks that show up as order takers if you will the ones I just talked about. But there are also the other set of folks that show up like Alec Baldwin did in Glengarry Glen Ross right which is a classic persona of a salesperson who [00:05:30] doesn't take prisoners. The classic persona of somebody who who believes sales is a zero sum game of winners and losers. And if you don't close a deal you're a loser. And that creates a huge burden for a salesperson who has to get up every day and be wonderful and spectacular and hit their quota and make big the cash with their families going to live on a huge amount of stress. And what we also find is that today that persona is [00:06:00] antithetical to the way that most of us think of ourselves and most of it and most of the core values we walk around with. So if you're going to show up as a leader you can either show up as a power or a leader who views sales as a zero sum game or as a servant leader who shows up and identifies shared goals for growth and then walks that client down a shared path of change.

Dan Harris: [00:06:23] So would you say that that approach helps you build. A strong relationship initially [00:06:30] but also establishes trust long term and can you talk a little bit about those two things.

James Rores: [00:06:34] You're you're dead on. And so. the. Yes it's it's it's an extra actually why we call a salesperson who competes and wins as a servant leader a growth multiplier because you know when when we show up and I was I was the prototypical power leader in my first 15 years I was very successful but ended up burning out because [00:07:00] I was behaving in a way that was contrary to my core values. I would at home I would be the person I was raised to be at work. I was someone else. And it wasn't scalable didn't last. And the same thing occurs inside businesses when the power leader shows up and is very transactional or manipulative and really only interested in what they can take out of a relationship. It's not good for the client and it's not good for the company they represent. So what ends [00:07:30] up happening is that power leader may close a deal but he or she creates friction in the relationship with the customer and with their employer. What kind of friction with the customer. Well the friction is great with the customer is that maybe as a power leader and a myth a manipulative salesperson I may not give them full disclosure on what they're missing from their deal. I may try to up sell them with things they don't need. Those are very classic situations that occur and I'm also going to use price to manipulate [00:08:00] them right.

[00:08:00] So you know I can give you a better deal if you make a decision by the end of the quarter. We all understand that methodology. What's really happening today is that we find that classic ERP and CRM software providers there's their sales now spike at the end of the quarter because now every buyer on the planet knows what they should be doing. They have to wait till the quarter so that manipulable techniques they create deals but they actually end up working against us over time. What's also very interesting in many organizations that I worked [00:08:30] with when I was a salesperson was that there was a disconnect between sales and the rest of the organization. In many of manufacturing plants that I work with today you'll see words like integrity transparency you know honesty up on the walls in the manufacturing plant. Yet the sales team has almost encouraged to operate the exact opposite way. We're out we're encouraged to go do whatever it takes to close that deal and [00:09:00] that so that creates huge conflict inside an organization where now sales isn't respected by the rest of the company. They're they're tolerated they're not aligned and so try to get the sales team to work with marketing try to get the sales team to work with the product team. It's very difficult.

[00:09:16] Yes I have a question for you. So that when you talked about your days as a power salesperson power leader what was the point at which you realized. Enough is enough. And [00:09:30] then how did you how did you change. I know you probably had to change yourself first and then bring the team along with you but can you talk a little bit about that experience.

James Rores: [00:09:39] I'm impressed you went there because it was one of the things that I talk about a lot and while so the short story is it was December 30 first 2004 I was a top rep worldwide for a very successful company today that they exist still today and [00:10:00] I was re closing a client who was already committed to us and always made a substantial down payment on his on his deal was willing to walk away from that down payment to walk away from the deal. And as the top performer worldwide I was I was putting on a clinic for my boss and his boss. So I had my VPN the global BP listening in. So. So it you know so as the classic power leader as a classic person who now wasn't going to lose at [00:10:30] any cost especially in front of especially when with an audience. Yeah I was in my home office pacing working that deal and closing that deal. And while I was on that call it was I was successful. I didn't need the money I had already was already through 30 percent of my quota but it was not about the client it is about me.

James Rores: [00:10:55] I was burping up stomach acid as I was looking out my window closing [00:11:00] that deal and as soon as I hung up the phone I it was it was really interesting how things align I jumped on the Internet looked up life coaching I had just heard about life this concept of life coaching hired a life coach and actually became functional within about six months of that experience and quickly realized that every CEO and sales leader I had ever worked with needed this kind of functionality right. And so within six months after [00:11:30] that I had started my company and we had actually moved and just re re rebooted our entire life and I had that coach for the following 10 years not because I was that broken.

James Rores: [00:11:45] But because you know the coaching experience helping people move and transform it's a skilled it's a skill that you have to learn acquire and so over those 10 years I really learned how to apply [00:12:00] that skill to a very tough audience.

James Rores: [00:12:02] Accomplished CEOs and sales leaders business owners executives who are used to being hard driving people from my generation and generations before me who grew up a certain way thinking about the way things should be done and I'm glad to say that we've had a we've spent a lot of time now the last 13 years helping people achieve those transformations and we've been successful in it.

Dan Harris: [00:12:26] That's fantastic and I can't agree more. I mean [00:12:30] you look at high performing athletes movie stars singers when they're performing at that level they need coaches so why not. You and I and CEOs and veeps of businesses. I mean it's it's our life it's our career why. Why not have a coach that can guide you in that direction. I'd also like to dispel that question with what was the impact to the business. When you as a sales leader power sales leader was doing this and then after [00:13:00] words once this change what did the company thrive did the brand grow or did you see.

Dan Harris: [00:13:07] Because the way you were operating the brand was less than powerful in the market. Yeah that's a great point. So.

James Rores: [00:13:17] The the power leader the zero sum game. It's all about me and hitting my quota. Much less about the customer and what they require. That approach is [00:13:30] really rewarded especially in high growth organizations. And it becomes a cultural imperative. Right. And so it's very difficult to be part of a hundred person sales team and not adapt and adapt and embrace the culture of that group especially. And this is there's no value judgment here against that group or people who sell that way today. This is a personal thing for me and it's a personal thing [00:14:00] for the folks that we work with. Right. So there is a oil and water kind of relationship there. Now thankfully in that environment at the end of the day the the common absolute rule always applied. If you kill your number who cares. Do whatever you want. So it wasn't about them not embracing my approach. It was about me and the. The disconnect and the [00:14:30] idea that I could that I couldn't be who I was and who I was and who I and how I want to operate wasn't embraced by my environment. And so that that created conflict that had to that eventually had to just be taken care of and I had to go do my own thing. Yeah. So so so. So that was all about me. Now in terms of driving success. What's really powerful is that would you show up as a growth multiplier. And you are [00:15:00] able to identify the goals that a client has that you can deliver. And when you sell the way that we promote there's a four step process which Paul is going to talk about. Would you identify those goals and you look at the impact of success or failure and you make the initial part of the conversation about the things that client values you now understand their definition of value and now you can position everything that you do from a needs perspective in a solutions perspective in [00:15:30] the context of that value definition.

James Rores: [00:15:35] And so what I was able to do is differentiate myself significantly from my competition with this approach which may be much more attractive one to the client in the short term of the transaction but also gave me an incredible base of referrals from my customers who couldn't wait to tell their co-workers and other and peers about the relationship we had built and [00:16:00] how I had served them. Now what's interesting about servant leadership the mistake people make when they think about it is that we are putting others above ourselves. That is absolutely not the case. This is about a shared relationship. So I have to make sure as a salesperson that my goals are aligned with the client's goals. Is this client looking to achieve the things I can deliver. So it's a it's purely a qualifying effort. What [00:16:30] are your goals. Are those goals I can deliver. I'm not going to force myself into a situation where I can't be competitive. I'm going to wait and find situations where I can be competitive and then I'm going to walk them down a path to change. They're going to follow my lead. Why. Because change the buying process is fraught with risk. And once I establish myself as an expert. Then that client absolutely is going to feel more confident following my path of change because I've done it hundreds of times [00:17:00] and maybe they're only their first or second time doing it right.

Dan Harris: [00:17:04] That's interesting. I. We've talked a lot about leadership right in this servant leadership but so what if a person who's listening this really isn't a leader and they're just following along the way the culture is trained them to be. Does that really make them a bad salesperson. That's a great question. So we did talk about this idea of being an order taker.

James Rores: [00:17:28] Now again that. That [00:17:30] phrase may be. May in sales cultures be viewed as a negative. What I'm really talking about is and I don't view it that way at all when we're talking about his role fit the sales role fit. So if if you're somebody who works for IBM a big brand or you and you yourself or a company with a differentiated product maybe that's disrupting the market then [00:18:00] it's much it's a much easier sales job. You don't have to have a broad set of skills required for example to do the things that we were doing in terms of breaking new markets with a product nobody had heard of to solve a problem you know they had right. So as it so being overtaken it just simply really simply talks about the fact that you have to do less leading less of the differentiation is on your head your shoulders. This approach is ideal. The approach I'm talking about is ideal for people [00:18:30] who can't be order takers who are working for startups or working for small businesses or working for businesses where they don't have a very well-known name or brand in the marketplace. For folks we're competing against larger brands that folks know about and that's actually 90 percent of all the sales people think about it. Very true. So yeah it's really it's really for those people who want a path that empowers them to [00:19:00] actually be referred to as taking control of growth. We have this saying internally that we also one that we share with our customers who train with us. You are responsible for the six for your success. Your CEO is responsible the companies they have salespeople responsible the customers that they have. What does that mean. It means that our success or failure is not in the hands of fate. It's in our control. So [00:19:30] we have a very simple formula that we follow.

James Rores: [00:19:32] D plus A = O. Decisions plus Actions equal Outcomes. The more structured you do your decisions the more disciplined your actions the more predictable your outcomes. And so all we're really talking about is viewing yourself as a sales person as a leader somebody who's going to who's going to make the right decisions and take the right actions to give yourself control more control over the buying relationship right and therefore make that relationship more predictable. [00:20:00] And if you can do that you can build a pipeline that will always over exceed your quota and you can build a sales organization that will drive growth for your company.

Dan Harris: [00:20:11] Yeah and I mean what you said earlier too was by taking on this approach as a servant leader in this process. You're positively disrupting the way that people are buying and the trust is built up over time. So that's very very interesting I think it applies just about anybody [00:20:30] that's in business today. So. Can you share an example. You don't have to name names of a company or thing but I'd love to hear an example of where you went in you provided training and what kind of results happened and in what timeframe. What can people expect.

James Rores: [00:20:47] So we we do make pretty aggressive statements about what we can help folks do we. We have a manufacturing client that I use them because they have an inside team and [00:21:00] they have two outside teams.

James Rores: [00:21:02] They also sell they sell direct and they sell through channels.

Dan Harris: [00:21:05] OK so it's very complex.

James Rores: [00:21:07] It's a complex organization. So if you look at the inside team the inside team was taking orders from their channel partners and they had maybe about 100 million in orders outstanding at any one point in time and they could only expect to close less than 10 percent of those. Why is that. Because the channels always kind of just asking for quotes and they're investing all this time in quotes but only. But [00:21:30] only 10 percent close rate means that they're wasting a lot of time. And they're giving up a lot of their capacity and not earning any money from that. So the first so that so that group internally can feel like order takers. They can feel like they have no control. If a channel partner calls and wants a price they can feel like they have to give it and then they also feel like they have no control and they follow up on those orders and it. Hey how's it going. What's happened. Because they start the relationship [00:22:00] without any respect. It's hard to earn that respect once they've given the quote or the proposal. So we simply went in and helped them think about first off change their mindset. The Servant Leader growth MULTIPLIER mindset is one where we don't show up as undertaker. We actually show up with questions that challenge. In this case the channel partners and distributors were placing the orders to actually come to them with better information.

James Rores: [00:22:28] And so we found [00:22:30] that when they began asking those questions they get a lot of pushback because now they're changing the relationship with their channel partners. And so we gave them one simple as an example we had a broad solution here but one example is the inside salesperson when they received pushback from the channel a partner would simply ask the channel partner look what is your goal. The lowest possible price or a happy and returning customer. And it. [00:23:00]

James Rores: [00:23:01] And it really stifled these folks because what what these guys really wanted was a they wanted both. But you can't have both right. You can't call for a beard or a quote on a complex deal on a complex manufactured product. And and give the person giving you the quote as little information as possible and then expect that that's going to hold true when you go in and actually finish the spec so you know. So we gave we gave the inside team that charmed by the way that was [00:23:30] in. We start that work in 2011. The company over five years grew on average by 21 percent. They more than 100 and they were 130 40 percent total growth in those five years. I'm still with them one because there's turnover but because also because growth creates change in the organization and requires us to come back and continue to use the same tools to solve new problems.

Dan Harris: [00:23:57] That's impressive impressive results [00:24:00] from an impressive gentleman. So we're going to wrap this one up. I know we're going to try to talk about another episode around Growth Multipliers. So before we before we end this episode can you tell people how to get a hold of you how to find out more about your solution.

James Rores: [00:24:17] I'll tell you what. We love working with people and organizations that have aggressive goals for growth.

James Rores: [00:24:22] We also love working with folks who like to take more slower steps to change [00:24:30] and exploring this idea of becoming a growth multiplier.

[00:24:33] Either way we'd be happy to help. Visit us at www.FlorissGroup.com

James Rores: [00:24:43] Lots of videos blogs other information there you can join the growth multiplier movement simply by signing up for a newsletter which is a monthly newsletter that includes a lot of the information that we talk about today. In addition to some how tos. We also have a ton of other [00:25:00] opportunities such as webinars on a monthly basis you have public training programs.

James Rores: [00:25:08] Many of those are focused around evolving servant leaders into growth multipliers. They're very popular with the folks that have already been through some servant leader training and a number a host of other ways that people can get involved might. Also I'm always available for a half hour phone call. So if you email me at James at Forest. I'm [00:25:30] happy to sit for a half hour and probably talk to anybody about the challenges. Fantastic.

Dan Harris: [00:25:35] Well thank you James.

James Rores: [00:25:37] My pleasure.

Dan Harris: [00:25:37] Well thank you James!

Dan Harris: [00:25:41] It's been a pleasure having you on the podcast today so listeners visit the Flotidd Group.com to learn more about empowering and transforming your sales team to become a modern customer centric sales organization. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Minds On B2B. If you enjoyed the show learned a little bit good [00:26:00] and subscribe and share the episode with your friends.

Dan Harris: [00:26:03] Now here's something you could do. You have the ideas for a possible episode for topics you'd like to talk about. Reach out to me on LinkedIn at DannyDHarris.

[00:26:12] You can also send me an e-mail with a subject line Minds On B2B Idea or Guest to Dan.Harris@MindsOn.com. The more ideas we get from listeners, the more listeners, the better this podcast will be. Make sure to subscribe [00:26:30] to our show on iTunes or on your favorite podcast player. If you enjoyed this podcast please rate the podcast and please leave a review and tell us how we're doing. Until next time. This is Dan Harris. Stay Curious. Learn Always, and Connect Often.

[00:26:43] Thanks for listening to today's minds on B2B podcast if you'd like what you heard today. Please subscribe. Also feel free to share this episode with your peers and colleagues so we can keep bringing you quality content from the best minds in B2B. Until next time from all of us it minds on have a great [00:27:00] week.


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